A lawyer, Gerald Abonyi, has accused the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, of harassing Nwantinti Christopher Eze and five of his other clients, for filing a suit challenging the use of their lands for a proposed airport project without any plan to compensate them.
In a statement on Monday, December 2, 2019, Abonyi maintained that the land use act, provides for compensation for those whose lands have been taken for public interest.
The lawyer said the case marked FHC/A1/CS/82/19 and filed at the Abuja Federal High Court is only an attempt to seek for justice for his clients.
"Our attention has been drawn to the continuous attack and physical assaults been meted out to the applicants in the above suit and members of their family by the agents, assigns and representatives of the Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency Sir Engr. Dave Umahi, by the reasoning of only the fact that they filed actions in court Complaining about their imminent extinction and destructions of properties and farmland without any form of agreement or compensation from the State Government," the lawyer said.
"It is taken as trite that the Land Use Act makes provision for compensation in event of acquisition of Land for public interest and our Clients referred above has neither taken the law into their hands but filed actions in court seeking Justiciable remedy.
"The current situation in Ebonyi State remains critical as the Applicants in the aforementioned case are been haunted, harassed with the employ and deployment of armed thugs who in one instance threatened to burn down the entire house of the 1st Applicant - Mr. Nwantiti Eze and kill all the occupants therein only yesterday the 1st day of December, 2019.
"We concede that the Airport project in Ebonyi State is a laudable project but also one that shall also benefit the living."
Abonyi said the rule of law must be respected while they all await the verdict of the court.
'No case against Umahi'
However, the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information, Uchenna Orji, claimed that the people gave the land without any prompting of the state government.
"The people within the place did (gave) it consensually even without the prompting of government through the traditional leadership. The airport when constructed will be one of the best in Nigeria. It is going to be an international airport. It will create jobs," he said.
When asked if they were compensated, the commission said: "If you read your law very well, (compensation) is for economic trees, or developed property. Where such arises, government does not hesitate in doing that. The remuneration has been made on such property, developed property and economic trees."
Orji noted that there was no case against the Ebonyi State Governor.